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CARICOM Secretary General says youth crime and violence demands a regional solution

CARICOM Secretary General says youth crime and violence demands a regional solution


by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jan 15, CMC – A two-day conference aimed at examining and redefining violence prevention solutions as it relates to youth violence and prevention in the Caribbean began here on Tuesday with the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Irwin LaRocque, saying it is a regional problem that demands a regional solution.

LaRocque told the conference that has brought together leaders from youth movements, governments, civil society, development organizations and academia that crime and security is an issue that is having an impact on all the 15-members of the regional integration grouping.

CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque

“It is a regional problem that demands a regional solution.  It not only requires the full co-operation of all our countries but also all the stakeholders within the member states.  The multi-state, multi-sectoral response to this challenge is vital for us to succeed in defeating it,” LaRocque told the opening ceremony.

He said a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2012 Caribbean Human Development Report on Citizen Security, noted that crime and violence impose high social, economic and cultural costs.

Crime and violence are development issues and the report recommended that a model of security for the region should be based on a human development approach with citizen security being paramount, he added.

The two day conference, which is being hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, UNICEF, the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat, the St. Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission, and the Caribbean Learning for Youth Networking and Change Sessions (LYNCS) Network., is intended to design transformational youth-centered action to combat crime and violence and address constraints that youth activists face in improving safety outcomes in their communities.

LaRocque told the conference that the youths are the demographic that is most affected by crime and violence and that some of the main findings of recent studies are that the majority of victims, as well as perpetrators of crimes recorded by the police, are young males 18 to 35 years old.

He quoted the UNDP report as indicating that the Caribbean has some of the highest figures of youth convicted of crime with at least 80 per cent of prosecuted crimes being committed by young people between the ages 19 to 29 years old.

“There are a number of socio-economic determinants of crime, not least of which is the high youth unemployment rate in the region of 25 per cent in 2017. That is three times the adult average and highest among young women ages 18 to 30 at 33 per cent,” he said, adding that to combat this scourge, Caribbean leaders approved the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy in 2013, which incorporates the CARICOM Social Development and Crime Prevention Action Plan.

LaRocque said that the plan hinges on a multi-pronged approach, including crime prevention, justice reform, prison and corrections reform, capacity development within law enforcement and border security, and intelligence-led law enforcement.

He said that within the realm of crime prevention, it has been recognised that there is a need to work closely with communities, to address citizens’ perception of, and support for, the security and law enforcement sector.

This involves the development of close collaboration between and among ministries responsible for national security and their counterparts in related sector.

LaRocque said that the Crime Prevention Action Plan and the CARICOM Youth Development Action Plan (CYDAP) are two of the main policy frameworks which guide the design and implementation of policy and programmes in member states to address crime and violence from a prevention perspective and through addressing the underlying social factors.

He said they also seek to create an enabling environment for adolescent and youth well-being, empowerment and participation in national and regional development.

But LaRocque told the delegates that notwithstanding the value of the projects and programmes that are put in place to deal with crime and violence in the region, he is of the firm view, “the core of this battle must be fought in the home.

“Families have a vital role to play in turning the tide of this struggle.  The universal values of love, hard work, honesty, character building, belief in self and self-respect are key weapons.

“The first intervention must be in the home.  It is there that our youths are first socialised. It is there that we must tackle the concept of toxic masculinity which comes out of a false notion of what it takes to be a man,” he said, adding ‘we must demonstrate that gangs, crime and violence are not the answer to a path of success and self-actualization”.

He said conferences such as this one provide an opportunity for young people to be fully involved in providing solutions to problems that affect them.

“The engagement of youth at all levels of the decision-making process is critical for the successful outcome of all these interventions.  It is not only your future that is at stake but your present circumstances.  You must be equal partners in this struggle as your theme, “Youth as Partners and Innovators” suggests,” he added.

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Silver wind cruise ship

Silver wind cruise ship visits

The Government Information Unit is reporting that the recently refurbished Silver Wind, a small luxury cruise ship operated by Silversea Cruises, will be visiting our shores on Thursday, January 17, 2019.

There will be more and they will be bigger by 2020…as the Ministry of Communication and Works informs on the progressive development, following continuing announcements from the Premier, Governor. On Monday, DFID, FCO delegation began FAM budget talks here.

This visit will come on the heels of continuous dialogue between the Island of Montserrat Tourism Division, Cheryl Andrews Marketing Communications in Miami, Travel World Montserrat and the cruise liner which began since 2017. Travel World International will be the Tour Operator for the vessel and will be offering a selection of Tours to the guests. This is Silver Wind’s first visit to our shores.

The vessel has a capacity of 290 passengers and 208 crew. In welcoming Silver Wind to our shores, the Hon. Premier will present a plaque to the Captain of the vessel. The Tourism Division will also welcome the guests and assist with dispatching tours to Tour and Taxi Drivers. The tourism division craves help and says, Let’s help welcome them as we can and show how #MontserratNice.

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Magnitude 3.4 earthquake felt in several islands

Magnitude 3.4 earthquake felt in several islands

by STAFF WRITER

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jan. 13, CMC – Several countries in the region were rocked by a magnitude 3.4 earthquake early Sunday.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that at 7:29 a.m. (local time) the tremor affected the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Martin, Sint Maarten, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts Nevis, US Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla and St. Barthelemy.

The USGS reports that the earthquake was located 78 kilometres NNE of Road Town in British Virgin Islands, with a depth of 88.0 kilometres.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

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Theresa May loses vote

Theresa May suffers historic defeat as Tories turn against her

The moment Theresa May loses crucial Brexit deal vote – video

The Guardian
Theresa May has lost the vote on her crucial Brexit deal by 432 votes to 202 in what is the heaviest defeat of any British prime minister in the democratic era.  As a result Jeremy Corbyn has tabled a vote of no confidence, which will be debated in the House on Wednesday

Theresa May has pledged to face down a vote of no confidence in her government, after her Brexit deal was shot down by MPs in the heaviest parliamentary defeat of the democratic era.

On a day of extraordinary drama at Westminster, the House of Commons delivered a devastating verdict on the prime minister’s deal, voting against it by 432 to 202.

The scale of defeat, by a majority of 230, was greater than any seen in the past century, and saw ardent Brexiters such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson walked through a packed division lobby cheek-by-jowl with passionate remainers.

As noisy protesters from both sides of the Brexit divide massed outside in Parliament Square, the prime minister immediately rose to accept the verdict of MPs – and say she would welcome a vote of no confidence in the government.

“The house has spoken and the government will listen,” she said. “It is clear that the house does not support this deal, but tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support.”Advertisement

In a raucous Commons, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, confirmed he had tabled a formal motion of confidence in the government, backed by other opposition leaders, which MPs will vote on on Wednesday.

Corbyn told MPs: “This is a catastrophic defeat. The house has delivered its verdict on her deal. Delay and denial has reached the end of the line.”

The Brexit-backing European Research Group (ERG) and the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) later announced that they would support the prime minister, making it unlikely Labour can succeed in triggering a general election.

May said that if she survived the vote on Wednesday, she would hold meetings with senior parliamentarians from all parties to “identify what would be required to secure the backing of the house”.

The prime minister’s spokesman later said May would be contacting Conservative and DUP MPs among others , but declined to say whether or not she would meet with Corbyn or SNP leader Ian Blackford.

He cited the example of May’s meetings with Labour MPs such as Caroline Flint and Gareth Snell about an amendment on workers’ rights, although both of those MPs eventually voted against the government. “We will approach it in a constructive spirit,” the spokesman said.

May has no plans to head to Brussels immediately, No 10 said, implying that the prime minister first needed to test what would be acceptable to MPs.

 Parliament Square cheers as Theresa May suffers Brexit deal defeat – video

Downing Street said May would approach the talks wanting to find a solution to deliver a Brexit deal that would honour the result of the referendum – suggesting that she would not countenance talks with those pushing for a second referendum, or even a full customs union, which Labour has backed.

She will then make a statement on Monday, setting out how she intends to proceed. MPs will get the chance to amend the statement, and are likely to take the opportunity to try to demonstrate support for their own favoured alternatives – including a Norway-style soft Brexit, and a second referendum.

Several cabinet ministers, including Amber Rudd, Philip Hammond and Greg Clark, had pressed the prime minister at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting to pursue a cross-party solution if her deal was defeated. But Brexit-backing ministers, including Andrea Leadsom and Penny Mordaunt, urged her instead to seek revisions to the Irish backstop – and failing that, to pursue a so-called “managed no deal”.

The former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said the crushing defeat gave the prime minister a “massive mandate” to return to Brussels and seek a better deal.

“We should not only be keeping the good bits of the deal, getting rid of the backstop, but we should also be actively preparing for no-deal with ever more enthusiasm,” he said.

On Tuesday night Johnson was joined by other prominent Brexiter MPs including John Redwood and Bill Cash at a champagne celebration party at Rees-Mogg’s house.

Boris Johnson leaving Jacob Rees-Mogg’s party on Tuesday night
 Boris Johnson leaving Jacob Rees-Mogg’s party on Tuesday night. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian

Hammond moved quickly after the vote to quell business anger over the failure of May to get her deal ratified. The chancellor expressed his “disappointment” at the result in a conference call at 9pm with main business groups, including the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce, as well as dozens of chief executives.

One source on the call said it was constructive and that Hammond’s tone was “realistic” about the damage prolonged uncertainty around Brexit was inflicting on the economy. However, Hammond was hammered by business leaders over parliament’s refusal to take a no-deal off the table. “This was the single biggest question he was asked,” said the source.

May said any plan that emerges from the talks would have to be “negotiable” with the EU27. She earlier rejected an amendment from Tory backbencher Edward Leigh calling for the Irish backstop to be temporary, saying it was not compatible with the UK’s legal obligations.

In Brussels, Donald Tusk, the European council president, appeared to back a second referendum soon after the crushing result for the prime minister was announced, and urged the prime minister to offer a way forward.

The prime minister was expected to return to Brussels within days to consult with Tusk and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker. Officials said the EU was now in listening mode.

In a statement, Juncker urged the British government to “clarify its intentions as soon as possible”, and warned that “time is almost up”.

“I take note with regret the outcome of the vote in the House of Commonsthis evening”, he said. “On the EU side, the process of ratification of the withdrawal agreement continues”.

In a defence of Brussels’ role in the negotiations, Juncker said that the EU and the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, had shown “creativity and flexibility throughout” and “demonstrated goodwill again by offering additional clarifications and reassurances” in recent days.

He said: “The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening’s vote. While we do not want this to happen, the European commission will continue its contingency work to help ensure the EU is fully prepared.”Advertisement

In Westminster earlier, knowing that she faced a heavy defeat, May made a heartfelt plea to MPs to support her, calling it “the most significant vote that any of us will ever be part of in our political careers”.

“Together we can show the people we serve that their voices have been heard, that their trust was not misplaced,” she said.

Earlier in the day, as one Conservative backbencher after another stood up to attack her painstakingly negotiated withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons, it became clear that few had changed their mind.

May herself embarked on a last-ditch charm offensive on Tuesday, holding meetings with MPs including the ERG’s Steve Baker, who said the pair had held a “constructive and substantial conversation about the future”.

Speaking just before the vote Corbyn saidMay had “treated Brexit as a matter for the Conservative party, rather than the good of the whole country”.

He called the government’s efforts to steer Brexit through parliament “one of the most chaotic and extraordinary parliamentary processes” he had experienced in 35 years as an MP. The attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, warned his colleagues that if they did not accept the prime minister’s deal, they risked condemning Britain to the chaos of a no-deal Brexit.

“It would be the height of irresponsibility for any legislator to contemplate with equanimity such a situation,” he said.

Corbyn will come under intense pressure to throw his weight behind a second Brexit referendum if May wins on Wednesday; but his spokesman said Labour did not rule out tabling another no-confidence motion at a later stage.

Labour MPs were joined by 118 Conservative rebels in voting down the prime minister’s deal, including erstwhile loyalists such as the chair of the backbench 1922 committee, Graham Brady. That was one more than the number who backed a no-confidence vote in May’s leadership of the Conservatives last month. Under party rules, the prime minister’s victory in that vote means she cannot be challenged for party leadership again within the next 12 months.

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Putin and Trump meet as if for the first time mmm

Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration

President Trump greets Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting in Helsinki. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

By Greg Miller

January 12 at 6:15 PM

The Trump administration “has imposed significant new sanctions in response to Russian malign activities,” said the spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and noted that Tillerson in 2017 “gave a fulsome readout of the meeting immediately afterward to other U.S. officials in a private setting, as well as a readout to the press.”

Trump allies said the president thinks the presence of subordinates impairs his ability to establish a rapport with Putin, and that his desire for secrecy may also be driven by embarrassing leaks that occurred early in his presidency. Trump, Putin address Russian interference in U.S. elections

Both President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about Russian interference in U.S. elections at a news conference on July 16 in Helsinki. (The Washington Post)

The meeting in Hamburg happened several months after The Washington Post and other news organizations revealed details about what Trump had told senior Russian officials during a meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office. Trump disclosed classified information about a terror plot, called former FBI director James B. Comey a “nut job,” and said that firing Comey had removed “great pressure” on his relationship with Russia.

The White House launched internal leak hunts after that and other episodes, and sharply curtailed the distribution within the National Security Council of memos on the president’s interactions with foreign leaders.

“Over time it got harder and harder, I think, because of a sense from Trump himself that the leaks of the call transcripts were harmful to him,” said a former administration official.

Senior Democratic lawmakers describe the cloak of secrecy surrounding Trump’s meetings with Putin as unprecedented and disturbing.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview that his panel will form an investigative subcommittee whose targets will include seeking State Department records of Trump’s encounters with Putin, including a closed-door meeting with the Russian leader in Helsinki last summer.

“It’s been several months since Helsinki and we still don’t know what went on in that meeting,” Engel said. “It’s appalling. It just makes you want to scratch your head.”

The concerns have been compounded by actions and positions Trump has taken as president that are seen as favorable to the Kremlin. He has dismissed Russia’s election interference as a “hoax,” suggested that Russia was entitled to annex Crimea, repeatedly attacked NATO allies, resisted efforts to impose sanctions on Moscow, and begun to pull U.S. forces out of Syria — a move that critics see as effectively ceding ground to Russia.

At the same time, Trump’s decision to fire Comey and other attempts to contain the ongoing Russia investigation led the bureau in May 2017 to launch a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was seeking to help Russia and if so, why, a step first reported by the New York Times.

It is not clear whether Trump has taken notes from interpreters on other occasions, but several officials said they were never able to get a reliable readout of the president’s two-hour meeting in Helsinki. Unlike in Hamburg, Trump allowed no Cabinet officials or any aides to be in the room for that conversation.

Trump also had other private conversations with Putin at meetings of global leaders outside the presence of aides. He spoke at length with Putin at a banquet at the same 2017 global conference in Hamburg, where only Putin’s interpreter was present. Trump also had a brief conversation with Putin at a Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires last month.

Trump generally has allowed aides to listen to his phone conversations with Putin, although Russia has often been first to disclose those calls when they occur and release statements characterizing them in broad terms favorable to the Kremlin.

In an email, Tillerson said that he “was present for the entirety of the two presidents’ official bilateral meeting in Hamburg,” but declined to discuss the meeting and did not respond to questions about whether Trump had instructed the interpreter to remain silent or had taken the interpreter’s notes.

In a news conference afterward, Tillerson said that the Trump-Putin meeting lasted more than two hours, covered the war in Syria and other subjects, and that Trump had “pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement” in election interference. “President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson refused to say during the news conference whether Trump had rejected Putin’s claim or indicated that he believed the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered.

Tillerson’s account is at odds with the only detail that other administration officials were able to get from the interpreter, officials said. Though the interpreter refused to discuss the meeting, officials said, he conceded that Putin had denied any Russian involvement in the U.S. election and that Trump responded by saying, “I believe you.”

Senior Trump administration officials said that White House officials including then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster were never able to obtain a comprehensive account of the meeting, even from Tillerson.

“We were frustrated because we didn’t get a readout,” a former senior administration official said. “The State Department and [National Security Council] were never comfortable” with Trump’s interactions with Putin, the official said. “God only knows what they were going to talk about or agree to.”

Because of the absence of any reliable record of Trump’s conversations with Putin, officials at times have had to rely on reports by U.S. intelligence agencies tracking the reaction in the Kremlin.

Previous presidents and senior advisers have often studied such reports to assess whether they had accomplished their objectives in meetings as well as to gain insights for future conversations.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been reluctant to call attention to such reports during Trump’s presidency because they have at times included comments by foreign officials disparaging the president or his advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a former senior administration official said.

“There was more of a reticence in the intelligence community going after those kinds of communications and reporting them,” said a former administration official who worked in the White House. “The feedback tended not to be positive.”

The interpreter at Hamburg revealed the restrictions that Trump had imposed when he was approached by administration officials at the hotel where the U.S. delegation was staying, officials said.

Among the officials who asked for details from the meeting were Fiona Hill, the senior Russia adviser at the NSC, and John Heffern, who was then serving at State as the acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment from the interpreter. Heffern, who retired from State in 2017, declined to comment.

Through a spokesman, Hill declined a request for an interview.

There are conflicting accounts of the purpose of the conversation with the interpreter, with some officials saying that Hill was among those briefed by Tillerson and that she was merely seeking more nuanced information from the interpreter.

Others said the aim was to get a more meaningful readout than the scant information furnished by Tillerson. “I recall Fiona reporting that to me,” one former official said. A second former official present in Hamburg said that Tillerson “didn’t offer a briefing or call the ambassador or anybody together. He didn’t brief senior staff,” although he “gave a readout to the press.”

A similar issue arose in Helsinki, the setting for the first formal U.S.-Russia summit since Trump became president. Hill, national security adviser John Bolton and other U.S. officials took part in a preliminary meeting that included Trump, Putin and other senior Russian officials.

But Trump and Putin then met for two hours in private, accompanied only by their interpreters. Trump’s interpreter, Marina Gross, could be seen emerging from the meeting with pages of notes.

Alarmed by the secrecy of Trump’s meeting with Putin, several lawmakers subsequently sought to compel Gross to testify before Congress about what she witnessed. Others argued that forcing her to do so would violate the impartial role that interpreters play in diplomacy. Gross was not forced to testify. She was identified when members of Congress sought to speak with her. The interpreter in Hamburg has not been identified.

During a joint news conference with Putin afterward, Trump acknowledged discussing Syria policy and other subjects but also lashed out at the media and federal investigators, and seemed to reject the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies by saying that he was persuaded by Putin’s “powerful” denial of election interference.

Previous presidents have required senior aides to attend meetings with adversaries including the Russian president largely to ensure that there are not misunderstandings and that others in the administration are able to follow up on any agreements or plans. Detailed notes that Talbot took of Clinton’s meetings with Yeltsin are among hundreds of documents declassified and released last year.

By Greg Miller January 13

President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson.

The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.

As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is thought to be in the final stages of an investigation that has focused largely on whether Trump or his associates conspired with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. The new details about Trump’s continued secrecy underscore the extent to which little is known about his communications with Putin since becoming president.

After this story was published online, Trump said in an interview late Saturday with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro that he did not take particular steps to conceal his private meetings with Putin and attacked The Washington Post and its owner Jeffrey P. Bezos. Trump and Putin had undisclosed meeting at G-20

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 7 had an undisclosed meeting that followed a first conversation during the G-20 summit in Hamburg. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

He said he talked with Putin about Israel, among other subjects. “Anyone could have listened to that meeting. That meeting is open for grabs,” he said, without offering specifics.

When Pirro asked if he is or has ever been working for Russia, Trump responded, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”

[A beefed-up White House legal team prepares for battle with special counsel]

Former U.S. officials said that Trump’s behavior is at odds with the known practices of previous presidents, who have relied on senior aides to witness meetings and take comprehensive notes then shared with other officials and departments.

Trump’s secrecy surrounding Putin “is not only unusual by historical standards, it is outrageous,” said Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state now at the Brookings Institution, who participated in more than a dozen meetings between President Bill Clinton and then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s. “It handicaps the U.S. government — the experts and advisers and Cabinet officers who are there to serve [the president] — and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump.”

President Trump greets Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting in Helsinki. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

A White House spokesman disputed that characterization and said that the Trump administration has sought to “improve the relationship with Russia” after the Obama administration “pursued a flawed ‘reset’ policy that sought engagement for the sake of engagement.”

The Trump administration “has imposed significant new sanctions in response to Russian malign activities,” said the spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and noted that Tillerson in 2017 “gave a fulsome readout of the meeting immediately afterward to other U.S. officials in a private setting, as well as a readout to the press.”

Trump allies said the president thinks the presence of subordinates impairs his ability to establish a rapport with Putin and that his desire for secrecy may also be driven by embarrassing leaks that occurred early in his presidency.

The meeting in Hamburg happened several months after The Washington Post and other news organizations revealed details about what Trump had told senior Russian officials during a meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office. Trump disclosed classified information about a terrorism plot, called former FBI director James B. Comey a “nut job” and said that firing Comey had removed “great pressure” on his relationship with Russia.

The White House launched internal leak hunts after that and other episodes and sharply curtailed the distribution within the National Security Council of memos on the president’s interactions with foreign leaders.

“Over time it got harder and harder, I think, because of a sense from Trump himself that the leaks of the call transcripts were harmful to him,” said a former administration official.

Senior Democratic lawmakers describe the cloak of secrecy surrounding Trump’s meetings with Putin as unprecedented and disturbing.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview that his panel will form an investigative subcommittee whose targets will include seeking State Department records of Trump’s encounters with Putin, including a closed-door meeting with the Russian leader in Helsinki last summer.

“It’s been several months since Helsinki and we still don’t know what went on in that meeting,” Engel said. “It’s appalling. It just makes you want to scratch your head.”

The concerns have been compounded by actions and positions Trump has taken as president that are seen as favorable to the Kremlin. He has dismissed Russia’s election interference as a “hoax,” suggested that Russia was entitled to annex Crimea, repeatedly attacked NATO allies, resisted efforts to impose sanctions on Moscow, and begun to pull U.S. forces out of Syria — a move that critics see as effectively ceding ground to Russia.

At the same time, Trump’s decision to fire Comey and other attempts to contain the ongoing Russia investigation led the bureau in May 2017 to launch a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was seeking to help Russia and if so, why, a step first reported by the New York Times.

It is not clear whether Trump has taken notes from interpreters on other occasions, but several officials said they were never able to get a reliable readout of the president’s two-hour meeting in Helsinki. Unlike in Hamburg, Trump allowed no Cabinet officials or any aides to be in the room for that conversation.

Trump also had other private conversations with Putin at meetings of global leaders outside the presence of aides. He spoke at length with Putin at a banquet at the same 2017 global conference in Hamburg, where only Putin’s interpreter was present. Trump also had a brief conversation with ­Putin at a Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires last month.

Trump generally has allowed aides to listen to his phone conversations with Putin, although Russia has often been first to disclose those calls when they occur and release statements characterizing them in broad terms favorable to the Kremlin.

In an email, Tillerson said that he “was present for the entirety of the two presidents’ official bilateral meeting in Hamburg,” but he declined to discuss the meeting and did not respond to questions about whether Trump had instructed the interpreter to remain silent or had taken the interpreter’s notes.

In a news conference afterward, Tillerson said that the Trump-Putin meeting lasted more than two hours, covered the war in Syria and other subjects, and that Trump had “pressed President ­Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement” in election interference. “President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson refused to say during the news conference whether Trump had rejected Putin’s claim or indicated that he believed the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered.

Tillerson’s account is at odds with the only detail that other administration officials were able to get from the interpreter, officials said. Though the interpreter refused to discuss the meeting, officials said, he conceded that Putin had denied any Russian involvement in the U.S. election and that Trump responded by saying, “I believe you.”

A White House spokesperson, responding to this detail from the Hamburg meeting, said: “The President has affirmed that he supports the conclusions in the 2017 Intel Community Assessment, and the President also issued a new executive order in September 2018 to ensure a whole of government effort to address any foreign attempts to interfere in US elections.”

Senior Trump administration officials said that White House officials including then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster were never able to obtain a comprehensive account of the meeting, even from Tillerson.

“We were frustrated because we didn’t get a readout,” a former senior administration official said. “The State Department and [National Security Council] were never comfortable” with Trump’s interactions with Putin, the official said. “God only knows what they were going to talk about or agree to.”

Because of the absence of any reliable record of Trump’s conversations with Putin, officials at times have had to rely on reports by U.S. intelligence agencies tracking the reaction in the Kremlin.

Previous presidents and senior advisers have often studied such reports to assess whether they had accomplished their objectives in meetings as well as to gain insights for future conversations.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been reluctant to call attention to such reports during Trump’s presidency because they have at times included comments by foreign officials disparaging the president or his advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a former senior administration official said.

“There was more of a reticence in the intelligence community going after those kinds of communications and reporting them,” said a former administration official who worked in the White House. “The feedback tended not to be positive.”

The interpreter at Hamburg revealed the restrictions that Trump had imposed when he was approached by administration officials at the hotel where the U.S. delegation was staying, officials said.

Among the officials who asked for details from the meeting were Fiona Hill, the senior Russia adviser at the NSC, and John Heffern, who was then serving at State as the acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment from the interpreter. Heffern, who retired from State in 2017, declined to comment.

Through a spokesman, Hill declined a request for an interview.

There are conflicting accounts of the purpose of the conversation with the interpreter, with some officials saying that Hill was among those briefed by Tillerson and that she was merely seeking more nuanced information from the interpreter.

Others said the aim was to get a more meaningful readout than the scant information furnished by Tillerson. “I recall Fiona reporting that to me,” one former official said. A second former official present in Hamburg said that Tillerson “didn’t offer a briefing or call the ambassador or anybody together. He didn’t brief senior staff,” although he “gave a readout to the press.”

A similar issue arose in Helsinki, the setting for the first formal U.S.-Russia summit since Trump became president. Hill, national security adviser John Bolton and other U.S. officials took part in a preliminary meeting that included Trump, Putin and other senior Russian officials.

But Trump and Putin then met for two hours in private, accompanied only by their interpreters. Trump’s interpreter, Marina Gross, could be seen emerging from the meeting with pages of notes.

Alarmed by the secrecy of Trump’s meeting with Putin, several lawmakers subsequently sought to compel Gross to testify before Congress about what she witnessed. Others argued that forcing her to do so would violate the impartial role that interpreters play in diplomacy. Gross was not forced to testify. She was identified when members of Congress sought to speak with her. The interpreter in Hamburg has not been identified.

During a joint news conference with Putin afterward, Trump acknowledged discussing Syria policy and other subjects but also lashed out at the media and federal investigators, and he seemed to reject the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies by saying that he was persuaded by Putin’s “powerful” denial of election interference.

Previous presidents have required senior aides to attend meetings with adversaries including the Russian president largely to ensure that there are not misunderstandings and that others in the administration are able to follow up on any agreements or plans. Detailed notes that Talbot took of Clinton’s meetings with Yeltsin are among hundreds of documents declassified and released last year.

John Hudson, Josh Dawsey and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

John Hudson, Josh Dawsey and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration

Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration

By Greg Miller
January 13

President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson.

The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.

As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is thought to be in the final stages of an investigation that has focused largely on whether Trump or his associates conspired with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. The new details about Trump’s continued secrecy underscore the extent to which little is known about his communications with Putin since becoming president.

After this story was published online, Trump said in an interview late Saturday with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro that he did not take particular steps to conceal his private meetings with Putin and attacked The Washington Post and its owner Jeffrey P. Bezos. Trump and Putin had undisclosed meeting at G-20

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 7 had an undisclosed meeting that followed a first conversation during the G-20 summit in Hamburg. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

He said he talked with Putin about Israel, among other subjects. “Anyone could have listened to that meeting. That meeting is open for grabs,” he said, without offering specifics.

When Pirro asked if he is or has ever been working for Russia, Trump responded, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”

[A beefed-up White House legal team prepares for battle with special counsel]

Former U.S. officials said that Trump’s behavior is at odds with the known practices of previous presidents, who have relied on senior aides to witness meetings and take comprehensive notes then shared with other officials and departments.

Trump’s secrecy surrounding Putin “is not only unusual by historical standards, it is outrageous,” said Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state now at the Brookings Institution, who participated in more than a dozen meetings between President Bill Clinton and then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s. “It handicaps the U.S. government — the experts and advisers and Cabinet officers who are there to serve [the president] — and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump.”

President Trump greets Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting in Helsinki. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

A White House spokesman disputed that characterization and said that the Trump administration has sought to “improve the relationship with Russia” after the Obama administration “pursued a flawed ‘reset’ policy that sought engagement for the sake of engagement.”

The Trump administration “has imposed significant new sanctions in response to Russian malign activities,” said the spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and noted that Tillerson in 2017 “gave a fulsome readout of the meeting immediately afterward to other U.S. officials in a private setting, as well as a readout to the press.”

Trump allies said the president thinks the presence of subordinates impairs his ability to establish a rapport with Putin and that his desire for secrecy may also be driven by embarrassing leaks that occurred early in his presidency.

The meeting in Hamburg happened several months after The Washington Post and other news organizations revealed details about what Trump had told senior Russian officials during a meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office. Trump disclosed classified information about a terrorism plot, called former FBI director James B. Comey a “nut job” and said that firing Comey had removed “great pressure” on his relationship with Russia.

The White House launched internal leak hunts after that and other episodes and sharply curtailed the distribution within the National Security Council of memos on the president’s interactions with foreign leaders.

“Over time it got harder and harder, I think, because of a sense from Trump himself that the leaks of the call transcripts were harmful to him,” said a former administration official.

Senior Democratic lawmakers describe the cloak of secrecy surrounding Trump’s meetings with Putin as unprecedented and disturbing.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview that his panel will form an investigative subcommittee whose targets will include seeking State Department records of Trump’s encounters with Putin, including a closed-door meeting with the Russian leader in Helsinki last summer.

“It’s been several months since Helsinki and we still don’t know what went on in that meeting,” Engel said. “It’s appalling. It just makes you want to scratch your head.”

The concerns have been compounded by actions and positions Trump has taken as president that are seen as favorable to the Kremlin. He has dismissed Russia’s election interference as a “hoax,” suggested that Russia was entitled to annex Crimea, repeatedly attacked NATO allies, resisted efforts to impose sanctions on Moscow, and begun to pull U.S. forces out of Syria — a move that critics see as effectively ceding ground to Russia.

At the same time, Trump’s decision to fire Comey and other attempts to contain the ongoing Russia investigation led the bureau in May 2017 to launch a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was seeking to help Russia and if so, why, a step first reported by the New York Times.

It is not clear whether Trump has taken notes from interpreters on other occasions, but several officials said they were never able to get a reliable readout of the president’s two-hour meeting in Helsinki. Unlike in Hamburg, Trump allowed no Cabinet officials or any aides to be in the room for that conversation.

Trump also had other private conversations with Putin at meetings of global leaders outside the presence of aides. He spoke at length with Putin at a banquet at the same 2017 global conference in Hamburg, where only Putin’s interpreter was present. Trump also had a brief conversation with ­Putin at a Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires last month.

Trump generally has allowed aides to listen to his phone conversations with Putin, although Russia has often been first to disclose those calls when they occur and release statements characterizing them in broad terms favorable to the Kremlin.

In an email, Tillerson said that he “was present for the entirety of the two presidents’ official bilateral meeting in Hamburg,” but he declined to discuss the meeting and did not respond to questions about whether Trump had instructed the interpreter to remain silent or had taken the interpreter’s notes.

In a news conference afterward, Tillerson said that the Trump-Putin meeting lasted more than two hours, covered the war in Syria and other subjects, and that Trump had “pressed President ­Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement” in election interference. “President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson refused to say during the news conference whether Trump had rejected Putin’s claim or indicated that he believed the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered.

Tillerson’s account is at odds with the only detail that other administration officials were able to get from the interpreter, officials said. Though the interpreter refused to discuss the meeting, officials said, he conceded that Putin had denied any Russian involvement in the U.S. election and that Trump responded by saying, “I believe you.”

A White House spokesperson, responding to this detail from the Hamburg meeting, said: “The President has affirmed that he supports the conclusions in the 2017 Intel Community Assessment, and the President also issued a new executive order in September 2018 to ensure a whole of government effort to address any foreign attempts to interfere in US elections.”

Senior Trump administration officials said that White House officials including then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster were never able to obtain a comprehensive account of the meeting, even from Tillerson.

“We were frustrated because we didn’t get a readout,” a former senior administration official said. “The State Department and [National Security Council] were never comfortable” with Trump’s interactions with Putin, the official said. “God only knows what they were going to talk about or agree to.”

Because of the absence of any reliable record of Trump’s conversations with Putin, officials at times have had to rely on reports by U.S. intelligence agencies tracking the reaction in the Kremlin.

Previous presidents and senior advisers have often studied such reports to assess whether they had accomplished their objectives in meetings as well as to gain insights for future conversations.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been reluctant to call attention to such reports during Trump’s presidency because they have at times included comments by foreign officials disparaging the president or his advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a former senior administration official said.

“There was more of a reticence in the intelligence community going after those kinds of communications and reporting them,” said a former administration official who worked in the White House. “The feedback tended not to be positive.”

The interpreter at Hamburg revealed the restrictions that Trump had imposed when he was approached by administration officials at the hotel where the U.S. delegation was staying, officials said.

Among the officials who asked for details from the meeting were Fiona Hill, the senior Russia adviser at the NSC, and John Heffern, who was then serving at State as the acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment from the interpreter. Heffern, who retired from State in 2017, declined to comment.

Through a spokesman, Hill declined a request for an interview.

There are conflicting accounts of the purpose of the conversation with the interpreter, with some officials saying that Hill was among those briefed by Tillerson and that she was merely seeking more nuanced information from the interpreter.

Others said the aim was to get a more meaningful readout than the scant information furnished by Tillerson. “I recall Fiona reporting that to me,” one former official said. A second former official present in Hamburg said that Tillerson “didn’t offer a briefing or call the ambassador or anybody together. He didn’t brief senior staff,” although he “gave a readout to the press.”

A similar issue arose in Helsinki, the setting for the first formal U.S.-Russia summit since Trump became president. Hill, national security adviser John Bolton and other U.S. officials took part in a preliminary meeting that included Trump, Putin and other senior Russian officials.

But Trump and Putin then met for two hours in private, accompanied only by their interpreters. Trump’s interpreter, Marina Gross, could be seen emerging from the meeting with pages of notes.

Alarmed by the secrecy of Trump’s meeting with Putin, several lawmakers subsequently sought to compel Gross to testify before Congress about what she witnessed. Others argued that forcing her to do so would violate the impartial role that interpreters play in diplomacy. Gross was not forced to testify. She was identified when members of Congress sought to speak with her. The interpreter in Hamburg has not been identified.

During a joint news conference with Putin afterward, Trump acknowledged discussing Syria policy and other subjects but also lashed out at the media and federal investigators, and he seemed to reject the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies by saying that he was persuaded by Putin’s “powerful” denial of election interference.

Previous presidents have required senior aides to attend meetings with adversaries including the Russian president largely to ensure that there are not misunderstandings and that others in the administration are able to follow up on any agreements or plans. Detailed notes that Talbot took of Clinton’s meetings with Yeltsin are among hundreds of documents declassified and released last year.

John Hudson, Josh Dawsey and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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Legal witnesses  testify in parliamentary disqualification trial of opposition leader

Legal witnesses testify in parliamentary disqualification trial of opposition leader

by STAFF WRITER

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Jan. 10, CMC – The case brought against the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas, continued in court Thursday with three expert witnesses on Dominican law making presentations before  Justice Trevor Ward QC to help him determine whether Douglas, through his use of a diplomatic passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica, is under allegiance to a foreign power.

The expert witnesses provided by the Government were  Reginald Armour and Justin Simon, former Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda. 

Dr. Denzil Douglas

Both men, who are are Dominican   attempted to show that   Douglas  demonstrated his allegiance to the Commonwealth of Dominica when he travelled on his Dominican diplomatic passport.

The lone expert provided by the defendant was Attorney-at-Law,   Gerald Burton, also a Dominican.

Douglas, in an affidavit filed in the High Court Registry on February 21, 2018, admitted to holding a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica, which he has used to travel. 

He also admitted to filling out and signing an application form for the diplomatic passport he holds, which is valid until July 29, 2020.

The opposition leader has argued that he has not sworn an allegiance, taken an oath of allegiance, nor become a citizen of Dominica.

However, the Attorney General’s Chamber is arguing that  Douglas is in violation of Section 28 of the Constitution after filling out an application form for a passport of another country, being issued with said passport and using that passport to travel, which are positive acts that constitute adherence, allegiance and obedience to a foreign power.

The St. Kitts-Nevis government, through the Attorney General, Vincent Byron, is seeking a declaration from the High Court that, since the election to the National Assembly on February 16, 2015, Douglas became disqualified from being elected as a member of the National Assembly and was accordingly required to vacate his seat in the National Assembly by reason of his becoming a person who, by virtue of his own act, is in accordance with the law of Dominica, under an acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state, namely, Dominica.

Additionally, the government is also seeking a declaration that Douglas has vacated his seat in the National Assembly; an injunction restraining him from taking his seat in the National Assembly and from performing his functions as a member as well as costs, and other relief as the court may deem just and expedient.

Meanwhile,  Anthony Astaphan, lead counsel for Douglas in the Dominica Diplomatic Passport case said  the legal matter   “is a simple one.” “This Diplomatic Passport was given to Dr. Douglas as a matter of professionalism and personal courtesy (by the Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit). He applied for it as required under the regulations. He did not declare a citizenship of Dominica at no time, even when he travelled on his regular passport or on the Diplomatic Passport. His nationality was always declared as that of St. Kitts and Nevis or a Kittitian,”  Astaphan told reporters.

Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has described the matter of one of grave constitutional, political and parliamentary significance to the Commonwealth.

Both sides have until January 25 to submit written submissions based on evidence that was presented in court on Thursday, after which the lawyers will have until February 4 to respond, if necessary.

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Government and opposition agree to expeditious conclusion of matters surrounding no-confidence vote

In an atmosphere of cordiality, both parties, committed to working together on all matters relating to the protection of Guyana’s sovereingty, regardless of internal political issues

by STAFF WRITER

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jan. 10, CMC –  The Government of Guyana and the Parliamentary Opposition have committed to work towards concluding  matters surrounding the December 21,  vote in the National Assembly, which is currently engaging the attention of the court.

This was disclosed in a joint communique issued by both parties following the meeting on Wednesday.

According to the communique, the two sides met in an atmosphere of cordiality and committed to working together on all matters relating to the protection of Guyana’s sovereignty, regardless of the internal political issues.

Discussions focused on two broad areas as set out in an agenda put forward by President David Granger. These included the Constitutional and Legal situation, which involves the functioning of the National Assembly and Regional and General Elections.

The President indicated that the Government and the Opposition, by agreement in the National Assembly, can enlarge the time for the hosting of the elections beyond the 90 days contemplated by Article 106 (7) of the Constitution.

Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo   called for the National Assembly to only meet to deal with issues connected with the provision of essential services by the State and all matters related to the preparation of General and Regional elections.

However, Granger stated that it is lawful for the Government to engage the Court, to bring clarity to the provisions of Article 106 (6) and 106 (7) of the Constitution. Pending the conclusion of the legal proceedings, Parliament, he said, remains functional.

The Head of State emphasised that the Government is legal and that it must govern without any limitations on its authority. He further stated that there is no provision in the Constitution which imposes a limitation on the Government to perform its lawful functions.

The parties then identified Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally and Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira to enquire into the readiness of GECOM.

Both parties expressed their willingness to meet to ensure the management of the various issues facing the nation.

 Granger, in an address immediately following Wednesday’s meeting, said the two sides will examine the hosting of the elections within the administrative capabilities of GECOM and deemed the meeting “fruitful.”

I would say in conclusion, that we have had a successful engagement, both the leader of the Opposition and the President are concerned about the situation. We would like to assure the public of Guyana that we are working to a solution which they will be satisfied with, the public interest is our paramount concern.”

US group welcomes agreement between president, opposition in Guyana

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn, New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) that wrote to the Speaker of the Guyana Parliament, Dr. Bartland Scotland, requesting that he considers annulling the vote of no confidence that brought down the in the David Grange coalition government. has welcomed the agreement between Guyana’s President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo “to create a climate of détente in Guyana”.

This came after, as reported above, Granger and a ministerial delegation met Wednesday with Jagdeo and a delegation from the opposition People Progressive Party (PPP) to discuss current political developments in Guyana. 

In keeping with Article 106 (7) of the Guyana constitution, they also agreed to remain in consultative engagement on the continued functioning of government and the Parliament.  

Article 106 (7) of the constitution states that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.” 

CGID said on Wednesday that it “hopes that the opposition will also adhere to this provision as prescribed.

“CGID welcomes this development,” said Richford Burke, CGID president.

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Jamaica - marijuana - lovely as the green

Jamaica’s small farmers to begin benefitting from marijuana industry

Marijuana plants – now a ‘legal’ crop in some Caribbean islands

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jan 8, CMC – Prime Minister Andrew Holness says that the Alternative Development Programme (ADP), which will provide an avenue for small farmers to benefit from the marijuana industry, will start by March. The programme is intended to prevent and eliminate the illicit cultivation of marijuana and channel the process through legal system.

Jamaica Prime Ministe Andrew Holness

The pilot, which will begin in Accompong, St. Elizabeth, south west of here and Orange Hill in Westmoreland, west of the capital, will involve the farming of marijuana to provide raw material for processors. “It is a real fear that as that (marijuana) industry emerges to become more corporatised, that the original ganja man, the original farmer, could very well be left out of the gains and the benefits, when you were the ones singing the praises and the benefits from how long,” Holness said.

“So this programme is of significant importance to ensure that small farmers, and, in fact, communities like Accompong, where there is certain discipline, a certain order, a certain social system that will ensure that it is not used in illicit ways, will benefit,” he added.

Speaking at a ceremony in commemoration of the 281 anniversary of the peace treaty signed by the Accompong Maroons with the British and to commemorate the birthday of legendary leader Cudjoe, Holness said he has received the commitment of the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw, that the programme will begin within the first quarter of this year. “I know that you have actually started your part of the programme, but you are now awaiting the Government’s part of the programme to commence. I had a word with him (Shaw) and he gave me a commitment that the Alternative Development Programme for the small ganja farmers to produce for the legal trade will start,” he said.

The 1998 Action Plan, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, provides for the inclusion of a programme, such as the ADP, through specifically designed rural development measures consistent with sustained national economic growth.

The programme will be administered by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries with oversight from the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

Among the stipulations are the tagging of plants under a track and trace mechanism; sale of products through licensed processors; farmers’ alignment to community-based associations/organisations; accommodating specThe ial groups, such as the Maroons and Rastafarians; and that maximum cultivation should not exceed half an acre per farmer.

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EU disburses First Economic Development Tranche of EC$17.55M to Montserrat

2018 Hurricane Maria exposed some areas of weak resilience

Jan 9, 2019 – Caribbeean News Service – The European Union has disbursed EC$17.55 million (€5.72M) to the Government of Montserrat (GoM) as the First Fixed tranche under the Multi Sector Sustainable Economic Development Budget Support Programme.

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The assistance is inclusive of an emergency top-up payment of EC$1 million (€320,000) as additional support to help with the economic recovery of Montserrat after Hurricane Maria struck in September 2017.

The overall objective of the Budget Support Programme is to assist in setting Montserrat on a path of sustainable economic development, based on its 2017-2021 Medium Term Economic Policy (MTEP).

The assistance is expected to support Montserrat’s renewable energy thrust and new port development to facilitate accessibility to the island. It is also geared towards enhancing the country’s tourism industry as well as improving the business environment and more inclusive private sector development.

The European Union Delegation will continue to support Montserrat’s efforts to create a coherent, comprehensive and sustainable policy framework that will ensure sustained and inclusive economic growth in the long term.

The EU welcomed the determination of the Government of Montserrat to increase economic resilience through strategic sector projects and mainstreaming resilience in all policies. This includes ensuring adequate building codes and standards in order to mitigate socio-economic losses in the event of natural disasters.

The EU Delegation expressed satisfaction to the Government of Montserrat as it continues to show progress and commitment towards prudent Public Financial Management (PFM), good Budgetary Transparency reforms and the pursuit of stable macroeconomic policies.

The overall programme (Grant) of the current 11 European Development Fund intervention is approximately EC$57.35 million (€18.72M).

The programme is expected to run until 2022, with EC$54.30 million (€17.72M) earmarked for multi sector development as budget support.

Montserrat also benefits from regional EU assistance for Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).

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Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo 2019 New Year Statement

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